London Underground has lost a High Court bid to stop a Boxing Day strike by Tube drivers.
Members of the Aslef union are planning to stage a walkout in a row with LU over pay.
The union wants additional payments and a day off lieu of working on the bank holiday. LU says it already has agreements covering payment for working on public holidays.
Aslef is planning to hold three further strikes on 16th January, 3rd and 13th February.
Earlier this week LU announced it was seeking a court order preventing the strike from going ahead, complaining that the union balloted drivers who were not scheduled to work on December 26th.
At the time Howard Collins, LU’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “The Underground is a public service that should be playing its part in helping Londoners and the Capital have a happy and prosperous Christmas, and we will take every possible step to ensure that happens.”
On Thursday Mr Justice Eder refused to block the strike and said he would give his reasons later.
Speaking after the verdict, Collins said: “We remain ready at any time before these four strike days to work with the union’s leadership to resolve this issue through talks, and I urge them to get back around the table.
“We will run as many Tube services as we can and extra buses will operate on the busiest bus routes. However, the action taken by the Aslef leadership is likely to cause serious disruption to Tube services across the network affecting the Christmas holiday plans of many Londoners.”
Welcoming the court’s refusal to grant LU and injunction, Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan said: “Whilst we’re obviously very pleased with today’s verdict, we feel that two days have been wasted going through the courts when we could spent that time finding a resolution to this dispute.”
Concerns over disruption to the transport network forced Arsenal to move their Premier League match with Wolves back 24 a day to December 27th.
In a statement released earlier this week, the club said the strike “would have caused severe disruption, or at worst, inability for supporters or matchday employees and workers to get to Emirates Stadium.”
Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, said: “This strike is unwelcome as it will harm London’s retailers, disrupt numerous Boxing Day events and lead to more cars on London’s roads – it is the last thing London needs.
“Londoners who are just days away from being hit by large tube fare rises will find it hard to understand why this strike is really necessary.”